GREENSBORO, North Carolina – UNCW sophomore Agustin Savarino defeated William & Mary's Christian Cargill in three sets to power the top-seeded Seahawks to their fifth Colonial Athletic Association Men's Tennis title with a 4-2 victory over the No. 3-seeded Tribe late Sunday at the Piedmont Tennis Center.
Playing indoors because of inclement weather, the Seahawks pushed their record to 14-8 on the season and secured the CAA's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. W&M ended the campaign at 11-12.
"This one's pretty special," said 10th-year UNCW Head Coach Mait DuBois. "After the last two years, where we were so close and fell short, to do it with eight freshmen makes it special. It's one of the best coaching experiences I've had for sure."
It was UNCW's third CAA crown in the last five years and the first since 2014. In the last nine seasons, the Seahawks have reached the CAA finals seven times. It also marked the second time the Seahawks have beaten the Tribe for the championship after beating W&M in 2013.
UNCW set the tone early by capturing the doubles point in narrow fashion. After the two teams split the first two matches off the court, UNCW's Gabe Hocevar and Michael Copelandtrailed 4-1 before rallying past Lars de Boer and Addison Appleby in a tie-breaker, 7-6 (2).
"The doubles point was huge," added DuBois. "It shows you the character of our players. It's just who they are. They work every day, never give up, and keep fighting."
W&M answered quickly in singles when Adian Talcott won at the No. 1 position, but Seahawk freshman Ignasi de Rueda topped Appleby, 6-3, 6-2, at No. 3 singles to put the Seahawks back in front, 2-1.
The Tribe evened the score at 2-all, however, when Alec Miller won at No. 4 singles until the Seahawks took the final two matches off the court – both three-set decisions - to set off a wild celebration on the Piedmont Tennis Center courts.
Copeland, a freshman from Johannesburg, South Africa, came from behind to defeat de Boer, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, and Savarino also rallied from behind for a thrilling 2-6, 7-5, 6-1, triumph against Cargill.
DuBois said the victory was especially gratifying since the Seahawks rarely play indoors. "To end up playing the only team in the conference with an indoor facility made it a big challenge. It's completely different. We came up early and went through some extra preparation. It was still a big ask for our guys, but they dug in and worked it out."
#1 UNCW 4, #3 William & Mary 2
April 23, 2017 | Piedmont Tennis Center | Greensboro, N.C.
1. Aidan Talcott (WM) def. Andres Torres (UNCW) 6-0, 6-1
2. Agustin Savarino (UNCW) def. Christian Cargill (WM) 2-6, 7-5, 6-1
3. Ignasi de Rueda (UNCW) def. Addison Appleby (WM) 6-3, 6-2
4. Alec Miller (WM) def. Raphael Calzi (UNCW) 7-5, 6-4
5. Daniel Groom (UNCW) vs. Damon Niquet (WM) 7-6, 5-7, unfinished
6. Michael Copeland (UNCW) def. Lars de Boer (WM) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
1. Christian Cargill/Ryan Newman (WM) def. Ignasi de Rueda/Agustin Savarino (UNCW) 7-5
2. Andres Torres/Michael Morphy (UNCW) def. Aidan Talcott/Tristan Bautil (WM) 6-3
3. Gabe Hocevar/Michael Copeland (UNCW) def. Lars de Boer/Addison Appleby (WM) 7-6 (7-2)
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (1,3,4,6,2)